The Taylor’s Mill saga goes on in Kimberley

Eight years into the process, there’s still no final decision

Kimberley City Council had a decision to make on the Taylor’s Mill development proposal last week and, after considerable discussion, decided not to decide.

A staff report from the planning department presented Council with six possible options, though it recommended that Council go with Option one. Option one was “Confirm expectation and requirement that the development proceed in a manner consistent with  the objectives set out in the Official Community Plan and in compliance to the City’s urban servicing standards.”

The developer of Taylor’s Mill has presented the City with a plan for a new type of development, a Sustainable Living Business Incubator. The key to a development of this type is a different standard for services.

Simply put, it’s larger lots with septic systems instead of city sewer, smaller diameter water piping because use of grey water systems means less City-provided water would be required, and gravel roads instead of paved.

The Taylor’s Mill development has been working its way through the process for eight years now, with the city expanding its boundaries to include it with a referendum at the 2008 election.

The staff report also laid out more options for Council, including partial acceptance of some, but not all differing standards, to removing some or all of the property from the City’s boundaries, to postponing the decision.

Coun. Kent Goodwin noted that the staff report recommended sticking with what is outlined in the OCP.

“I think a rural development is a wonderful thing but it should occur outside city boundaries,” he said.

“I won’t support the recommendation because to me the report felt like an excuse for not dealing with an exception,” said Coun. Don McCormick. “With all the changes taking place in the marketplace we could end up with a development in bankruptcy. A whole lot of locals have invested in this. We have the option to be flexible and come up with some middle ground.”

“It’s not often Councilllor McCormick and I agree,” said Mayor Ron McRae. “But I agree. We have taken the proponent down this path. We need to go the distance to exhaust every possibility to make it successful.”

McCormick said that there was opportunity to look at different ways to manage fire protection, water and sewer.

Coun. Albert Hoglund had concerns about any lessening of service standards.

“I don’t have a problem if staff wants to have another look, but the proponent knew infrastructure would be a problem. I can’t see the City having inferior infrastructure. If we waiver on that now there will be a big problem down the road. All other developments had to put in the infrastructure we wanted. You’re opening a can of worms you can’t stop.”

City Planner Troy Pollock told Council that his department had been working hard with the developer, Fraser Armstrong, to get everything in place for what he called a “complicated development”.

“As much as everyone sympathizes with the financial issues, and we all know friends and neighbours involved in this, the key selling point for the community was urban infrastructure,” Pollock said.

“There are ways to make parts of it work but it’s such a large development. We have been having conversations on development standards. In any development there are often minor variances to deal with as things progress. Our concern is having to go down the road of reducing standards. Fire protection is our major concern. Our fire protection resources are already stretched. The potential for not having an adequate water supply is a huge concern. But if Council isn’t firm, postpone the decision.”

After further discussion, Council came to a deadlock on turning down the plan, as Coun. Darryl Oakley had to recuse himself because of conflict of interest. The tie meant the resolution lost.

At that point, Council voted for option six, to postpone a decision for more information. McCormick and McRae opposed that, but the motion passed.